Myanmar coup: Thailand repels thousands who attempt to flee as the death toll surpasses 500

Myanmar coup: Thailand repels thousands who attempt to flee as the death toll surpasses 500

An activist group called the Karen Information Center said 2,009 people were internally displaced and hiding in the bush, having been forced to return to Myanmar shortly after crossing the border with Thailand.

Thousands of people fled their homes in the southeastern state of Karen on Sunday, after Myanmar military aircraft launched a raid on villages controlled by an ethnic armed group. Reuters reported that the Karen National Federation, which controls large swaths of land in the borderlands with Thailand, overran an army post near the border, killing 10 people.

The reported influx of people fleeing to neighboring Thailand marks a new phase in the deepening crisis for Myanmar, which was in turmoil when the military seized power in Coup on February 1 He overthrew an elected government Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar security forces have killed at least 510 people since the coup, and 14 were shot dead on Monday, including children and youth, according to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (AAPP).

“We don’t want any influx into our area.”

The Karen National Federation said 3,000 people crossed the Salween River into Thailand in the run-up to Aerial bombing by the army, 2,000 times repelled.

The Karen Women’s Activist Organization (KWO), which operates within Karen State and refugee camps in Thailand, confirmed that the air strikes forced 10,000 people in the state to leave their homes, and 3,000 people crossed into Thailand.

CNN was unable to reach Thai authorities for comment, but Reuters quoted Thichai Jindalwang, governor of Mae Hong Son province in Thailand, denying returning the refugees.

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When CNN contacted the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they directed us to a statement published by local media from the ministry’s spokesman, Tani Sangrat, in which he said, “These reports cite information from unofficial sources only without confirming facts from official sources on the ground. The occurrence of such a decline. “

On Tuesday, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that officials did not force the refugees to return to Myanmar, but had spoken to some people who had entered Thailand.

“After we asked questions (like) what are their problems in your country, they said,“ No problem. ”Prayut said in a media briefing,“ If there is no problem, can they go home at the moment? We did not force them (to return) with guns, but rather we shook hands and blessed them with good luck. ”

“We have to take care of them on a humanitarian basis. We have a lot of experience … There is no way to deter them if the fighting is still going on. But if there is no fighting now, can they return to their home?”

On Monday, Prayut said his government did not want refugees to cross the border but was preparing for a possible influx.

Myanmar is a ‘conflict zone’

Thailand has hosted tens of thousands of refugees in nine major camps along its border with Myanmar for three decades, in the wake of armed conflict, human rights violations and persecution of ethnic minorities by the Myanmar military.

Most of those who crossed the border at the weekend are from the Mo Trouw area, where the bombing was concentrated. Many of these are people who have already fled their homes and are living in the E2 Hatta camp for the displaced.

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Photos provided by the Karen National Federation to CNN show Myanmar refugees being denied entry to Thailand. A video filmed by a resident of Karen village and published by Reuters showed refugees on boats under the watch of Thai soldiers.

Armed rebel groups have been fighting the Myanmar army every now and then for the past 70 years in the country’s ethnic states, but fighting in some areas has escalated since the February 1 coup.

Boats of ethnic Karen villagers who fled the air strikes of the Myanmar army are seen after crossing the Thai-Myanmar border in Mae Hong Son province, Thailand, on March 28.

The Karen National Union said three civilians were killed in the strikes, which began on Saturday and continued through Monday. Military aircraft also killed at least two KNU militia members on Saturday.

It is the first time in 20 years that airstrikes have been carried out in the area, David Eubank, founder of the relief organization Free Burma Rangers, said.

Despite government denials, Thai authorities have been criticized by many human rights groups.

“Forcibly returning people to a conflict zone amounts to refoulement and is inconsistent with international refugee law,” the Karen European Network, a group of Karen communities from several countries in Europe, said in a statement Monday.

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